Rattler receives distinguished service award

FAMU alumnus LaDray Gilbert receives award at The Florida Supreme Court.
photo by
Skylar Boone

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University alumnus, LaDray Gilbert, has been awarded the 2020 Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award. 

To receive the award, you must be an outstanding attorney for one of the state’s 20 judicial circuits. The award was started in 1982. Gilbert had to be nominated.

“I am so proud to be a Rattler. This award is a direct reflection of the values and morals that you learn at FAMU,” Gilbert said. “FAMU shaped and molded me into the man I am today and I will always be indebted to FAMU,” continued Gilbert.

Gilbert was awarded this honor for his work during the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. He had no place to live but he was deep in the woods and places where people couldn’t get out, passing out supplies. 

They were working with Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum to give out supplies as well. Gilbert’s office was Gillum’s headquarters for the area during this time. Gilbert helped people with the logistics of their insurance claims to make sure people received proper returns for their claims. 

Attorney Gilbert grew up in Malone, Florida in Jackson County.  He grew up on a farm in a small town with only one traffic light. He is now the managing attorney at The Gilbert Firm PA.

Coming from such a small place, Gilbert was the first to achieve a lot of things in his life. He was the first African-American to sign a Division One baseball scholarship out of his high school, the first African-American to establish a firm in his county straight out of law school, and now, he is the first African-American in his judicial circuit to be receiving this distinction. 

But what made Gilbert choose Florida A&M University?

He was offered a full scholarship to play baseball at FAMU by former Head Baseball Coach Joe Durant. Gilbert was amazed by former President Frederick S. Humphries. He said Humphries was one huge reason he attended FAMU. The two developed a relationship when Gilbert was in law school. 

“He’s shown me how to work and develop a legacy of helping others to access opportunity and achieve,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert attended FAMU in the fall of August 2000, graduated in 2004 from the School of Business and Industry, then proceeded to join the FAMU Law program from 2005 to 2008 in Orlando, Florida. 

“Being a Famuan first and foremost he has been well prepared to be of service because he was well prepared by FAMU and he has a passion for serving,” FAMU National Alumni President Lt. Col. Gregory Clark said.

Gilbert didn’t originally plan to go to FAMU Law, he intended to attend FSU because he didn’t want to leave Tallahassee. But after talking with one of his mentors, Daryl Parks, he realized that he wanted to be a part of helping to build a new legacy for the Orlando Law School.

“It is no surprise at all that he was selected for this award. He is a giving, caring person who has always been committed to his community and the people there in Jackson County,” mentor Daryl Parks said.

Meeting Parks, Benjamin Crump, and working with them showed Gilbert how to give back to the community. He said the two were a positive influence and they helped him make his mind up about law school.

Gilbert was also thankful for SBI Professor Gail Thompkins, he credits Thompkins for teaching him how to think more professionally. Gilbert was also thankful for his parents, community, and mentors. He said his community was his village, everyone took care of one another.

“This award means so much to me because my firm and I have been knocked around and kicked down for 10 years and we are still standing and now the Florida Supreme Court is recognizing us for being a firm of good service,” Gilbert said.

Without the help of each person along the way, Gilbert wouldn’t have been able to continue this path of service and receive this award.